Cleveland Indians: The Team to Beat in 2008?

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Cleveland Indians: The Team to Beat in 2008?

 

The Cleveland Indians are going to win the 2008 MLB World Series.

You read that correctly.

The Cleveland Indians are going to win the 2008 MLB World Series.

Forget that the national media, spearheaded by the Eastern Sports Propaganda Network, has already anointed the Red Sox and the Tigers as the combatants in the ALCS before position players have even reported to Spring Training.

Forget the media will also kiss the Yankees' proverbial collective ass. Forget that Jonathan Pooperbon has already proclaimed that the Red Sox are going to do it again. Forget all the trades the Tigers have made.

The Cleveland Indians are going to win the 2008 MLB World Series.

Why? They are going to want it more. No one gave them a shot last year—and they won 96 games, tied for the most in baseball. They made it within one game of the World Series.

And those last three painful losses in the ALCS could be seen in the eyes of Victor Martinez, Paul Byrd, Jake Westbrook and a whole lot of other Indians as well. To come so close and yet be so far will have a lasting impression on this team.

They still have better starting pitching than the Yankees and Tigers—and if there is anything that Cleveland has learned from the Tribe teams of the 1990s, it's that pitching, not hitting, makes you a serious contender first and foremost.

C. C. and Fausto may have a little bit of a fall off from 2007, but I still expect them to be int he upper echelon of AL pitchers. Jake the Snake and the Byrdman will be solid, and whoever doesn't take the fifth spot out of Cliff Lee, Jeremy Sowers, and Aaron Laffey will be ready and waiting if and when injury occurs. The Angels and Red Sox may be a bit better, but the Tribe's rotation is right up there.

The same goes for the bullpen, as the Indians have the decided advantage over the Yankees and Tigers and match-up well with the Red Sox and Angels. Can Iron Joe pull off another 40+ save season while minimizing the heart attacks he doles out? If not, the Rafaels are ready and waiting to pick up the slack.

I see future closer in Jenny Lewis, and think he may be the answer to some sixth- and seventh-inning hot spots. I don't know who this Japanese guy is, but as long as he doesn't eat 50 hot dogs in the bullpen, appear in any "alternative lifestyle" movies, and gets people out when necessary that's fine by me. Fultz will be the situational lefty once again and either Tom Mastny or Jorge Julio will be lucky bullpen spot number seven. Reinforcements are ready and waiting in Buffalo, just like they were last year.

The Tribe has a surplus of pitching which is the foundation on which playoff teams are built. But I really think this is the year the offense breaks out. Last year was supposed to be Grady's breakout year, but his average slipped and he was very inconsistent. I expect him to "take it to the next level" in 2008. I foresee the return of Pronk, which changes the entire dynamic of the Indians' line-up. I see another .300-20-100 year from the heart and soul of the club, Victor Martinez, without a month plus long slump he's had in each of the last two years. Now that he's established himself in the bigs I see Ryan Garko making a jump in production this year. Consistent years from Blake, Jhonny P, the As-Man and Frankie are a must and I see Mark Shapiro going out and fixing LF if the Dellucci/Michaels platoon at the trade deadline if needed.

If the offense can step it up, look out. The pitching might have a small drop off from last year but I just don't see it crashing and burning. The AL Central is a two team race. Detroit and Cleveland. I'll take pitching over hitting any day. The Red Sox are fat and happy and I see them overlooking the Tribe after the 3-1 rally they pulled in the ALCS. And I see the Indians feeding off that disrespect. The Indians exude class from their leader, Victor Martinez down, and they want a piece of the ass-clowns from Boston.

The Indians are already written off, beaten down and forgotten by the league. That means they have nothing to lose. And that makes them very dangerous people.

The Cleveland Indians are going to win the 2008 MLB World Series.

It's Tribe Time... NOW.

Believeland

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